James Bush: Back to Dominaria

To say that I’m excited for Dominaria would be an understatement. Since I began playing Magic: The Gathering in the late 90’s, Dominaria and its lore have been a huge part of my love of the game. Urza and his gang fighting off the Phyrexian forces was enough of a hero vs. villain story to keep me interested outside of collecting and playing the game. If you’re a newer player or just unfamiliar with the story, I highly suggest going back and reading up on the wonderful content the ancient plane has to offer.

Putting my fanboy gushing aside, we do have some new cards to evaluate for constructed.  Without extensive testing, here are the top 10 cards I feel will have the largest impact on Standard and/or Modern.


10) Siege-Gang Commander

We have seen the power of this goblin in the past. Five power spread wide with the ability to fling at problematic targets is great.  I can see Siege-Gang finding homes in mid-range strategies as well as goblin decks. In matchups where attrition and spot removal are key, creating multiple creatures with one card is gold.


9) Seal Away

This is the removal spell control decks have been waiting for.  The only limitation is that the creature must be tapped.  No problem. This is a clean answer to Hazoret, Rekindling Phoenix, and more. At two mana, you can expect to see this making waves in Wx control strategies, and maybe aggro mirror matches.


8) Cast Down

Another great removal spell.  This is the closest we’ve been to Doom Blade in a long time.  If Standard doesn’t evolve into a legend heavy format, I can see Cast Down being the choice removal spell of the format. I wouldn’t think it too far-fetched to see a few copies of Cast Down in black based control decks in Modern as well.


7) Lyra Dawnbringer

Wow! This angel packs a punch.  We’ve subtracted protection from Demons and Dragons from Baneslayer Angel and added an anthem for our other angels. Something tells me this might just be an upgrade from the chase mythic of Standards past. Should we decide to stop winning with Approach of the Second Sun, Lyra can provide a nice end game for our control decks. Outside control decks, midrange decks looking to top off at Lyra Dawnbringer wouldn’t be the worst.  This card has too many keywords at a more than fair cost not to see play.


6) History of Benalia

This is my sleeper pick of the set.  The value this card generates while fitting on curve for an aggressive beatdown deck is too good to pass up. As an enchantment, it’s going to be harder to remove than normal creatures.  Two bodies for one card at only three mana is great. While it’s not getting a lot of hype now, I think this card will shine as the new Standard format begins to take shape.


5) Steel Leaf Champion

This guy is a beating! Pseudo unblockable and a 5/4 for three? Sign me up! There’s a lot going for this card at such a cheap cost.  GGG will need some creative deck building to accommodate, but in the right shell this is the perfect card to punish a slow opponent.


4) Llanowar Elves

Welcome back, little buddy!  We haven’t had a one drop mana dork in Standard for a while now. Ramp decks can now play 3 drops on turn 2.  Aggro decks can punch harder and faster with the acceleration Llanowar Elves provides.  Oh, and it just happens to be a nice aid to casting Steel Leaf Champion.


3) Damping Sphere

During spoiler season, this card stood out above the rest.  Modern is surely in for a shake up thanks to this hate card.  Modern sideboards are pressed for space already, and Damping Sphere allows us to free up slots. I’m very excited to hose Tron and Storm all in one neat little package.


2) Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

I love this card. While five mana can be quite the investment, an immediate impact to the board and a card advantage engine makes Teferi’s power level go over the top for me. We can plus one, draw a card, and have mana open for removal like Seal Away or countermagic.  We can minus three and effectively remove ANY nonland permanent from the play.  This includes Planeswalkers! We’ve seen ultimate abilities win the game, and Teferi’s does just that.  Should we be able to minus eight Teferi, there is very little our opponents can do to climb back into the game. I’m looking forward to jamming this into my decks.


1b) Karn, Scion of Urza

Well would ya look at that? Another Karn Planeswalker that is bonkers. It’s cheap, provides card advantage, and can protect itself.  What more do we want our Planeswalkers to do? Did I mention it’s colorless?  Put this card in just about any deck and it can easily turn around a game. It enters with five loyalty and can immediately going up to six. I expect Karn to see major play in Standard and even show his face in Modern.


1a) Enemy ‘Buddy’ Lands

Our mana has been great in Standard. The fast lands in Kaladesh provided consistency in three-color decks and more.  Combing with the Amonkhet cycling lands, the buddy lands in Dominaria will shine for the foreseeable future.  Pick up your playsets and keep them on hand.


Some honorable mentions that could easily slot into this list after more testing include:

  • Goblin Chainwhirler (If Standard is really low to the ground and we can support RRR to cast, I can see Chainwhirler making some noise.)
  • Jaya Ballard (I think Jaya is being underrated right now. We’ve seen Big Red decks having some success.  Jaya feels like a good addition to Chandra, Torch of Defiance in some of those shells.)
  • Syncopate (A live counterspell from turn 2 on.  Syncopate has been played in Standard before and I expect it to have repeat success.)
  • Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain (I hear there are a lot of zero mana artifacts roaming around in Modern.  There just might be something here.)
  • Mox Amber (It has ‘Mox’ in its name.  Hype, hype, hype!)
  • Phyrexian Scriptures (Damnation is great.  A Damnation for every creature besides your best one is even better. Graveyard hate effects tend to have upsides as well.)


Dominaria looks to be a great set for constructed.  I can’t wait to see what rises to the top for Standard and even Modern after the additions from the set. As with most speculation, it’s possible I’m wrong about most of this list, so jam some games!  See what works and what doesn’t. Happy testing!


You can find James grinding away on Magic Online @ JamesDaBoosh or on twitter @JamesABush87

Sharing is caring!



James Bush